01/23/07 — Nightclub permit opposed

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Nightclub permit opposed

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 23, 2007 1:54 PM

Years ago, the east side of James Street was known only as "The Block," an area characterized by gunshots, drug deals, noise and violence.

On Monday night, area residents told Goldsboro City Council members they would fight to ensure those days never return, as several came together in opposition of a conditional land use request that would bring a "place of entertainment" back to the street.

The Rev. Henry Gregory Jr. said he remembers waking up in the middle of the night to loud music, drunken screams and litter all over the neighborhood.

"We then had to do the clean up of beer cans, bottles and trash," he said.

It took years of an increased police presence in the area to turn the neighborhood around, he added. Gregory and several other residents said they are concerned over a request by property owners to turn the former site of the Elk's Club back into a nightclub equipped with ABC permits.

"Why should we allow history to repeat itself?" Gregory asked. "We've been there, done that."

Lula Powell agreed. She has lived in the neighborhood since the early 1990s and told council members that approving the nightclub would "bring the old block back," and all that came with it -- noise, drugs and gangs.

"This is not something we want to go back to," she said.

The Rev. Dwight Canon echoed her sentiments.

"This is about the right to feel safe and secure in one's community," he said.

Henry and Tamaro Battle disagreed. They made the request and said the council should also consider their right to start a legitimate business.

"Just like you all have the right to have your churches, we have the right to have a place of entertainment," Mrs. Battle said. "We're not trying to bring the old block back."

No formal decision on the matter will be made at least until the council's next meeting.

Still, councilmen Jackie Warrick and the Rev. Charles Williams said they won't need that long to decide what their vote will be.

"Most, if not all of the members of this council know the history of James Street," Williams said. "I think approving this would be a giant step back for this council."

Warrick, a former chief of police, agreed.

"I will not vote for this," he said.

Resident Mary Isler said she hopes the other board members also will vote against the request. She has ties on James Street that extend back to the 1950s and said the neighborhood has come a long way in the past decade.

"I'm getting older and I would like to have some peace," she said.